Last weekend, a very unique concept made its way to internet pay-per-view as the “UR Fight” event took place in Phoenix, Arizona and was broadcast on urshow.tv through a partnership with the Jim Ross endorsed Fite app. When first announced a few months ago, the show garnered some buzz because of the affiliation of Roy Jones Jr. Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Micheal Bisping, Chael Sonnen, and others all battling within their respective sports on the card. Again, the concept of bringing four different types of combat styles to one show seems interesting on paper, but as the night progressed, it was clear that was not the case during the course of the event. However, before the show went on the air, there were a few indications that it might not be the historic event the promoters had hoped. Outside of a few Twitter mentions from the participants, there was no actual advertisement or promotion done for the show with main stream commercials. As a result, the small building in Phoenix was sprinkled with many empty chairs, even though it was reported online that free tickets were being offered prior to the event.
Originally scheduled to be Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn, the mixed martial arts portion of the card was changed after Shamrock tested positive for banned substances following the Bellator debacle when he fought MMA legend, Royce Gracie last month. With Shamrock not cleared to fight, someone found Tank Abbott as a replacement, but he didn’t pass the state athletic commission physical so the bout was completely replaced with two virtually unknown MMA fighters.
With both competitors in their 40s, Jim Ross, who was on commentary for the show, should’ve referred to this one as “bowling shoe ugly.” The 48-year-old Maverick Harvey brought a record of 8-4 and it looked like he lost a fight with a tattoo gun. The 45-year-old Shannon Ritch brought a stellar 53-79 record into the contest. It should be noted that the entire event took place inside of a pro wrestling ring, which doesn’t provide the proper footing for MMA or boxing bouts. Within the opening minute, Maverick rushed Ritch, who was tumbling through the ropes while trying to dodge punches from his opponent. When both competitors were finally back in the ring, Ritch took the fight to the ground and got the relatively easy submission choke at roughly two minutes in the first round.
UFC middle weight, Michael Bisping completed with suspended MMA fighter Chael Sonnen in a grappling match. For those wondering, this one was signed as a grappling contest because it’s one of the few “competitions” that Bisping can compete for while still under UFC contract. Sonnen, who is still under a two year suspension as a result of the multiple failed drug tests that cost him an analyst job on Fox, was allowed to compete because of the unique rules of the grappling match. It should be noted that while grappling is a very technical aspect of combat sports, the UR Fight show didn’t have judges to score it and the only way to win was via submission. If an audience is unfamiliar with the grappling fighting system and there are not score cards, it can lead to a very lackluster exhibition, which is exactly what happened on IPPV. For the three rounds and a total of 15 minutes, this grappling “fight” was essentially a glorified sparring session with neither competition attempting to finish the contest. There was a lot of posturing and and not much action while Bisping played to the nearly nonexistent crowd. Reportedly, the notable names of the card made a decent paycheck, but I don’t blame Bisping at all for his lack of intensity grappling. He’s signed to the UFC, the biggest MMA organization in the world and recently got the biggest win of his career when he defeated Anderson Silva so why would he risk an injury at a side show event? Another question is, fans pay to see Bisping in a mixed martial arts setting and if you can’t book him in that environment, why put him on the card? After the Bisping/Sonnen match, a preliminary fight from earlier in the show was shown and while that footage was played, the live feed from the announcers’ mics was accidentally left on when commentator Sean Wheelock was overheard saying “that was awful.” His statement accurately describes the uneventful grappling contest.
The intermission “entertainment” was 15 minutes of a rapper named “Riff Raff” walking around the ring with two ladies that looked like they had no idea where they were or what to do there. Riff Raff is an appropriate name for the ridiculous outfit and hair style.
The Kurt Angle/Rey Mysterio 2/3 falls match was next and seemed to be the only hope to save the card, but it’s been almost ten years since the classic Rey/Angle matches in the WWE. The match itself was quality, but the finish was typical of the rest of the show, as Riff Raff helped Mysterio get the win. Riff Raff would also be a good way to describe the event.
The main event was next as former boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. was going to participate in a boxing match with contest winner Vyron Philips, an MMA fighter with a 5-3 record. Philips won through voting on social media and could win $100,000 if he defeated Jones. The 47-year-old Roy is well past his prime, but still competes in glorified exhibition fights in Europe while working as an analysts for HBO. While there’s a novelty to this fight, the results were going to be disastrous either way, considering if Jones lost, it’s a disappointment to boxing fans to see the former star defeated by a rookie boxer or Roy easily wins and it’s obvious the the contest wasn’t really much of a “challenge.” The opening round was relatively uneventful until the closing seconds when Roy staggered Philips with a punch before the end of the round. Jones KO’ed Philips in the second round to conclude a lackluster event.
As you can tell from reading this, UR Fight wasn’t exactly the complete combat sports events promoters tried to sell and it underscores the fact that you can book novelty acts to try to sell a show, but the bottom line is, there has to be quality competitors to produce a quality event. Realistically, Roy Jones Jr. hasn’t been a draw in America for over a decade and the attendance of the event represented it. Could an event book multiple styles on the same card and be successful? Sure, similar cards have drawn major attendance in Japan for years, but again quality competitors are the key to producing a quality event.
Until next week
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